Someone told me the other day that they were going to get married before me. When they said this, the half of me that is 23 and still single was cringing (not that 23 is old, but the majority of my 23 year old friends are "with" someone, betrothed, married, or with child), and the half of me that is proud was fuming. Embarrassed rage. I had never experienced that combo before. Usually the two emotions are opposing each other, and usually the responses are on opposite ends of the spectrum. For me, however, both cause my face to turn red. I was really red. It was night though. Phew.
It only lasted a few seconds, because I was sure it was a joke. Then these words came out of the perpetrator's mouth: "No really, I'm not kidding. I'm going to get married before you." God has a sense of humor, right? This would be the perfect instance to display irony.
My friend then went into this spiel that the reason was not any fault of my own, but rather that he just couldn't picture me with anyone. He stated that I was "too good" for any man he knew, and that I would "need" someone extraordinary, and he just couldn't imagine that.
I dismissed the situation as socially awkward at the fault of my friend, and then invalidated everything he said based on that fact. But then I started thinking about what he had said.
The Lord has been teaching me what He feels about singleness. He loves it! Paul says that singleness is a gift, and that marriage is a gift, and teaches us to be thankful and productive with our respective gifts - not to desire the other gift, and not to remain idle in any place. I'm tired of hearing "your time will come soon." What time? Usually when people talk about "time coming" it's referring to 1. Birth - "It's time!" or 2. Death - "His time was up." Now it's marriage - your time will come. And what if I don't have a "time?" Am I defective?? And I didn't realize "time" came for a specific set of people. Doesn't time just keep coming no matter what??
The whole thing just seems odd to me. Here is what I think (and a lot of my thoughts come from a sermon I heard at the Village, but I can't remember who was preaching). I think that singleness has become a stepping-stone to "the other side" when it should be a side in and of itself. You're either single, or you're married. You're not a youth, and then single, and then an adult when you get married. You're born single, and then you might get married.
1 Corinthians 7 talks about how we should live, be it single or married. The gift of singleness is that we can serve the Lord single-minded. Our only concern is what the Lord wants. How beautiful is that. And yet as singles, we roll into church 30 minutes late, waste time sitting on our couch with TV dinners, use our independence and money to vacation more, play more, and consume more. We should be early to church - greeting, serving in the nursery, teaching Sunday school, etc. because we have time! We should stay late because we don't have kids to pick up, lunch to make for our family, and 4x the amount of laundry to do on Sunday afternoon.
And married people - appreciate our singleness! Don't tell us to wait on "our time." Encourage us to serve as we are. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 says, "What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away."
I think my friend really was complimenting me, whether he intended to or not. It is my prayer that people would not look at me or my single friends and immediately think that we need spouses. The fact that he cannot imagine me married means that maybe I'm living well now. It's my prayer that I would continue, that we would continue in this manner - serving the Lord whole-heartedly, unashamedly, and unhindered, going wherever He calls, whether it be into full-time ministry, teaching, the business world, missions, or into marriage.